Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Diary of a Provincial Lady

I have been reading on book blogs, for what feels like years, rave reviews for E.M. Delafield's 'The Diary of a Provincial Lady.'  Maybe it was the title or the fact that I always confuse the author with someone else (I am my mother's son), but I never got around to reading it.  Or had an honest interest.  While perusing the newly restored library -a lot can happen in three months to an olde haunt, not sure if I'm positive about it- I stumbled across a lovely edition.  'Oh, here it is!' I unfortunately exclaimed out loud.  Inside were rave reviews: 'You will laugh out loud.' 'Unique.' 'Priceless.'  I was convinced.

I opened it a few days later and laughed my way to it's finish.  We don't know her name, but we know her inner thoughts and feelings of inadequacy.  We know her children that she loves dearly and her husband, whom I personally hope she divorces.  We know her true friends and her friends who she feels she must impress.  She was so relatable... at least to me.  Her life was filled with havoc and innocent mistakes, often with unfortunate results.  I don't want to make it sound slapstick, but the reality of her life and her thoughts on it were hysterical and brilliant.

There were so many highlights but my favorite was when her new neighbor, literary Miss Pankerton pops in (we know how we all despise pop-ins) with her Bloomsbury friend, Jahsper, for a visit:

...Jahsper, still dabbling at injured eye, contributes austere statement to the effect that only the Russians really understand Beauty in Nomenclature.  Am again horrified at hearing myself interject "Ivan Ivanovitch" in entirely detached and irrelevant manner, and really begin to wonder if mental weakness is overtaking me.  Moreover, am certain that I have given Miss P. direct lean in the direction of Dostoeffsky, about whom I do not wish to hear, and am altogether unable to converse.

Entire situation is, however, revolutionised by totally unexpeceted entrance of Robin -staggering beneath my fur coat and last summer's red crinoline straw hat -Henry, draped in blue kimono, several scarves belonging to Mademoiselle, old pair of fur gloves, with scarlet school-cap inappropriately crowning all -and Vicky wearing nothing whatever but small pair of green silk knickerbockers and large and unfamiliar black felt hat put on at rakish angle.

If I ever have kids, I know this will happen to me...it most assuredly happened to my mother.
Was there a plot?  I'm not sure.  But does one's diary have a plot?  What we have here is a glimpse of a woman's life in the interwar, with no silver linings or smoke and mirrors.

I first read about this at Stuck in a Book, and he tells me there are three more to look forward to, which I can't tell you how pleased I am to hear.  If you know how to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously, this book will appeal to you.  For the rest of you, reading it will probably give you 'an attack.'

Image above: Love's Greatest Mistake, James Flagg.


Blue said...

I first met the Country Lady a few years ago and was thrilled to do so. Wry smiles all the way through the book. A later book, where she comes to America, is less successful. Do you know the Lady Addle book?

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear Daniel, I have a lovely copy of this from the Folio Society. I'm ashamed to say I haven't read it. I shall add it to my reading pile forthwith. I hope all's well with you xx

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

PS. If you change your comments to pop up your readers can leave multiple comments without having to refresh multiple pages.

Go to Dashboard - Settings - Comments- Change to Pop Up Window. And take off the word verification, Blogger has a spam filter now. If you get the odd email saying you have spam ignore it, it's unlikely to appear on your blog xx

StuckInABook said...

Hurrah hurrah hurrah! So pleased you like it - though it would be more or less impossible not to. Such a wonderful series, which I've re-read about once every 18 months since I first read it. And there are indeed three more! My favourite of the series is the second, Provincial Lady Goes Further (or PL in London in some editions).

And that is such a wonderful picture - how did you find it?


DM said...

Blue- I hadn't heard of Lady Addle, but after looking her up she seems just my cup of tea!

Christina- Please read it! I know you'll love it. And thanks for the heads up...I made the changes :)

Simon- Thank you thank you thank you! I've got PLGF on order at the library. And the image came into my existence in the kismet manner whilst I was reading the book and coincidentally looking for James Flagg paintings. Isn't it perfection?

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

a fantastic read. love it- of course. the pop up windows are good however, referring back to thoughts on the original posts when leaving comments is exasperating, nothing's perfect- except maybe Beverly Nichols-but we know its only make believe, at least the perfection parts. pgt

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Daniel --
"Lady Addle" is FABULOUS..and one of my funniest finds from last year. There's also a sequel which I also own. Please read them so we can laugh at her idiocy and misadventures together! (Check Abebooks for inexpensive editions.)